Interview: Jen Mann

Jen Mann b. 1987

Toronto, ON Canada

Lives and works in Toronto.

Graduated OCAD -  BFA (2009)

"In the society of ‘me’, where we document ourselves like celebrities and share our lives online for everyone, the self is a prevalent, and important topic to our generation. Our identities are curated like our online profiles to reflect only the parts of ourselves we choose to keep alive. Who am I? Who are you? What does my life mean? Why am I alive? Mann's work aims to address these very illusive questions, and explore, but not necessarily answer all of them.”

Tell us a little bit about your story. When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

I've always had an interest in people and relationships. That interest found its way into my work in the form of portraiture on many occasions, though people are not in all of my work. I think it's somewhere a lot of artists start, with figurative works, and over time institutions try to squash that out of us, and so we move away from it... I wasn't going to move away from something until I had exhausted it, and until I decided I was ready, not because someone else told me to. 

Why do you feel that painting is still so relevant in today's fast-evolving art world?

Relevance is funny. I'm not sure what is relevant really. I just make what I make and hope that it connects somewhere, with someone. If paintings have maintained their relevance, it is probably because paintings are very easily turned into commodities, and people can easily envision them within their own spaces and collections. Paintings are durable, iconic, and have a long history and authority to them. 

What are some of your favorite ways to unwind and recharge outside of the studio?

My studio is a part of my living space, so I never truly leave. Taking my dog to the park, watching movies, reading, writing, cooking... those are the main ones, other than obvious other carnal pleasures. 

What is your new work about? What was on your mind when creating it?

My new work is a look at self, identity, and how we create it and maintain it in today's society. 

How do you approach marketing your art? Do you enjoy social media and if so, how has it influenced your career up to this point?

Social media hugely impacts my art. Half of my work is about the effects of social media on the way we understand ourselves and the people in our lives.

What would you say are some challenges that you overcame in your journey as a painter? 

I'm not sure we are ever done overcoming hurdles. Even the ones we think we have jumped in the past will come back into view on our next lap around the hamster wheel of life.